Last month, as my granddaughter’s seventh birthday approached, I awarded myself an honorarium certificate commemorating seven years of membership in the Ancient Order of Grandfathers, printed in a very nice 72 point Brody font. Very Gothic looking. For the coming holidays I intend to matte and frame it in a distinguished setting.
Becoming a grandparent is something I highly recommend. My days are now filled with delight, gratitude, and deep love. Her party was saturated with girliness. Almost two dozen of them. I am sorry if the term girliness offends anyone, but those with young granddaughters will understand. I am not referring to cultural manifestations such as Hello Kitty and the like, but rather the stunning variety of distinct personality types that somehow mesh very well in large group settings.
I recently became aware of something called Boston Confucianism, and to one Professor Tu Wei-Ming of Harvard, one of the world authorities on Confucianism. I am struck by the apparent simplicity yet deep profundity of the Confucian way. In his Analects Confucius repeatedly stresses three things that the exemplary person does: be true to your word, do your utmost in all that you do, and observe ritual propriety. Without going into a study of these virtues, I will merely point out that Confucius is postulating a relational ontology ( the academic in me had to squeeze that in ) in that the only real self we have is one based on roles and relations and our orientation to the community in which we live.
I have been thinking a lot over the past year about my role as a grandfather. I do not believe I have an exaggerated view of my own importance as a grandfather, so much as a heightened view of the importance of all grandparents. Our granddaughter recently went to a musical stage production of Mulan, and came back talking about the ancestors this and the ancestors that... for Halloween she dressed up as a Chinese style ancestral grandmother. I now have a statue of Confucius on my mantel, and all’s right with the world.